Whitbread's new Zip brand offers no-frills stays in city outskirts

The first Zip by Premier Inn hotel will open in early 2019. Photo credit: Whitbread PLC

Whitbread PLC has launched Zip by Premier Inn, a new no-frills hotel concept. The first Zip by Premier Inn hotel will open with 138 rooms in the Roath district of Cardiff, Wales, in early 2019.

Whitbread reportedly conducted research and determined that guests were willing to forego traditional expectations like large rooms and central locations in favor of a lower price point. As such, Zip by Premier Inn hotels will be located on the outskirts of major towns and cities, and will have small guestrooms with prices from £19.

The rooms are less than half the size of a standard Premier Inn room, at just 8.5 square meters. The hotels were created by PriestmanGoode, the consultancy firm behind first-class cabins for airlines like Air France, Lufthansa and Swiss; global brand consultancy, Wolff Olins; and JCS Design for the interior spaces. 

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The rooms have “flexible” bed formats, small wall-mounted TVs and en-suite shower rooms. The small rooms will give Whitbread access to a broader range of buildings in towns and cities across the UK. Whitbread has secured a second site in Southampton with 140 rooms, and is actively seeking further acquisitions in out-of-centre town and city locations that suit the smaller room format. 

“In developing the concept, we have undertaken considerable research, including having had six Zip rooms on sale to customers for many months,” Premier Inn Managing Director Simon Jones said in a statement. “It’s clear through the research that people want…a comfy bed and a power shower but they are happy to compromise on location or some extras if they are paying a fantastic price for their room. We will continue to learn from our customers as they experience the product and will evolve and innovate the concept as we open more Zip hotels.”

“Our strategy is to grow and innovate our core UK business and Zip is a great example of how we are doing that,” said Alison Brittain, CEO of Whitbread PLC, noting that while Premier Inn has 800 hotels across the UK, there is still an “under-served” niche to fill. “It offers us an exciting new platform for growth and will give us access to a broader customer base, attracting those guests who are on a particularly tight budget but still expect and deserve the basics done brilliantly.”

All standard Zip rooms include twin single beds with Hypnos mattresses that can be pushed together to create a double bed, private bathroom with a shower, free WiFi and a 24-inch TV. Each hotel will also have a large communal area that serves breakfast in the mornings and cocktails in the evenings.